The ancient Romans used to refer to it as “Costa Balenae” (i.e. “The Whale Coast”). Today the Ligurian coastline that stretches from Andora to Ventimiglia is better known as the “Riviera dei Fiori” – The Flower Riviera. The seas facing the western Ligurian coast are still inhabited by whales and dolphins, among which are the fin whale, the second largest species on the planet; the sperm whale, the largest predator ever to have lived on earth; and 5 other regularly sighted cetacean species.

Every year in June, Tethys ONLUS Institute, with the technical organization of the San Remo Marathon, will organize the SAN REMO HALF MARATHON – RUN FOR THE WHALES. This charity marathon will take place along the “most beautiful cycling and pedestrian path in Europe”, which stretches for 24 km along the coast. A half marathon certified by FIDAL will see runners who come from all over the world racing from San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo; a non-competitive 10 km will allow aspiring runners to begin with a manageable distance; while those who are simply enthusiasts, children with their parents, grandparents and pet dogs can challenge themselves in a walk of about 3 km.

In honour of its thirtieth anniversary, Tethys Research Institute will be the main organiser of the event. On top of carrying out research on cetaceans in the Ligurian sea for over a quarter of a century, Tethys was the first to propose the establishment of the Pelagos Sanctuary to the governments of Italy, France and the Principality of Monaco.

It is an extraordinary heritage which unfortunately few know about. The great majority of Italians are actually unaware of the mere existence of both the Sanctuary and the cetaceans that inhabit it.

The high concentration of whales and dolphins and their presence year-round is a resource of great importance which could considerably increase the appeal of the area and thus significantly increase tourism influx through sustainable touristic management.